08 July 2019

Annotated Game #214: Why you should never rush (redux)

It often happens in chess training that the topics you are studying become immediately relevant to your game analysis. In this next tournament game, Tatev Abrahamyan's "Why You Should Never Rush" highlights the main theme, since at several points I could have exercised more patience and maneuvered to keep remorselessly squeezing my opponent, rather than simplify or release tension.

Another key idea revealed during analysis was the missed tactical opportunity on move 14. Unlike many tactical problem drills, there was no immediate mate or forced loss of material, but the sequence would have given me a far superior, even winning, position.

Strategically, the struggle revolves around the creation and then targeting of Black's isolated queen pawn (IQP) and the near-ideal circumstances for White in exploiting it. However, my opponent never gave up and in the end she did a good job of holding the endgame draw.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A13"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "154"] {[%mdl 8192] A13: English Opening: 1...e6} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. b3 {keeping it in English opening territory, although with some Reti characteristics.} Nf6 4. Bb2 Nbd7 5. e3 c5 6. Be2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. cxd5 {although not bad, this is possibly premature. During the game, I wanted to get some clarity in the central structure before developing further, and I'd also already decided I wanted to exchange the pawns.} (8. d3 {is the choice of top-rated players, featuring slower development and maneuvering.} b6 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Qc2 Rc8 11. Rfe1 Qc7 12. Nf1 e5 13. Ng3 Rce8 14. e4 dxe4 15. dxe4 Bd8 16. Bd3 Kh8 17. Nf5 Ng8 18. Ne3 Bc8 19. Nd5 Qd6 20. Rad1 g5 21. Nd2 Qg6 22. Nf1 Ndf6 23. Ng3 Nh5 24. Nxh5 Qxh5 25. Be2 Qh4 26. g3 Qh3 27. Ne3 Bf6 28. Bf3 Be6 29. Qe2 Bg7 30. Bg2 Qh6 31. Ng4 Bxg4 32. Qxg4 Qg6 33. Bc1 h6 34. Qf5 Qc6 35. Bh3 Re7 36. Bb2 Qc7 37. Rd5 Re6 38. Qf3 Re7 39. Red1 Nf6 40. Rd6 {1-0 (40) Matanovic,A (2490) -Bochaev,M Elista 2002}) (8. Nc3 {is another popular alternative. Here's a short game that shows some tactics for White.} b6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. d4 Bb7 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. Bd3 Ne4 13. Qe2 cxd4 14. Nxd4 Ndc5 15. Rfd1 Nxd3 16. Qxd3 Bd6 17. Nf5 Be5 18. Nxd5 Bxb2 19. Rxc8 Qxc8 20. Nfe7+ {1-0 (20) Toloza Soto,P (2375) -Sepulveda,N (2065) Santiago de Chile 1998}) 8... exd5 (8... Nxd5 {would result in a different central structure, with no possibility of an IQP for Black.} 9. d4 $11) 9. d4 {the idea is to exchange on c5 and force Black to accept having an isolated d-pawn. In this position, I have firm control over d4, the square in front of it, so would benefit from the pawn formation.} Nb6 { although this adds to the defense of d5, I can proceed unhindered with the pawn exchange, leaving Black a bit more passive.} (9... b6 $5) 10. dxc5 $14 Bxc5 11. Nc3 {I now have a pleasant game strategically, with Black tied down to defending the isloated d-pawn, which cannot be advanced and liquidated due to my control of d4. I also have no obvious weaknesses.} Be6 {developing the bishop and overprotecting d5.} 12. Rc1 Rc8 13. Nb5 Qe7 $2 {an outright mistake by my opponent, but I reply far too cautiously.} (13... a6 {was what I had expected, after which the knight would take up a central outpost on d4.} 14. Nbd4 $14) 14. Rc2 $6 (14. Nxa7 $5 {I rejected due to} Ra8 {which I thought would simply win back the a-pawn, to Black's favor. However, the Qe7 is overloaded protecting the Nf6 and Bc5, which allows the following:} 15. Bxf6 gxf6 (15... Qxf6 16. Rxc5 Rxa7 17. a4 $18 {and now White is a clear pawn up and still holds all the positional cards.}) 16. Nb5 Rxa2 {and now Black is in trouble due to the loose kingside and the White knights' activity. For example} 17. Bd3 Nd7 18. Bb1 $18 {with Qd3, Nc7 and Nfd4 all possibilities for increasing pressure on Black to follow up.}) 14... a6 15. Nbd4 Bxd4 {I was happy to see this exchange on general principles: 1) reducing the number of minor pieces, which favors the side blockading the IQP; 2) exchanging bishop for knight, giving me the two bishops; 3) removing the opposing dark-square bishop, making my Bb2 more valuable.} (15... Bd6 $5 $11 {is worthy of consideration, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface.}) 16. Nxd4 $16 { occupying the d4 outpost, a great place for the knight.} Rxc2 {exchanging down normally helps the side blockading the IQP, so this is fine by me.} 17. Qxc2 Rc8 18. Qb1 {staying on the b1-h7 diagonal while preparing to exchange rooks on c1.} Ne4 {Black is now also able to occupy an central outpost with a knight, while eyeing the unprotected d2 square. However, offering to exchange rooks avoids the fork threat.} 19. Rc1 Rd8 $6 {this gives me the c-file without a fight and ends up making the Ne4 more of a target than a threat for me. My opponent may have been thinking about trying to support an eventual push of the d-pawn.} (19... Rxc1+ 20. Qxc1 Qc5 $16) 20. Bd3 {increasing pressure on the knight and threatening to win a pawn by taking twice on e4.} f5 $2 { this appears to hold everything, but there are some tactical problems with it, related to the open c-file and the now underprotected Be6.} (20... Nf6 21. Ne2 $16 {and now White's dark-square bishop gets into the game to good effect, operating along the long diagonal and with moves like Bd4 a possibility.}) 21. Nxe6 $18 {this should be good enough, but perhaps is not the best way to take advantage of the position.} (21. Rc7 {is the engine line, exploiting the forking possibility on e6.} Rd7 {after this defense, White has a large advantage, but the way to proceed is not necessarily obvious.} (21... Qxc7 22. Nxe6 Qd7 23. Nxd8 Qxd8 24. f3 Nf6 25. Bxf5 $18 {being a pawn up with the two bishops in an open position is an easy win.}) 22. Rc2 Nd6 23. Qc1 Qf7 24. Ba3 $18 {and White can now rearrange pieces to exert maximum pressure at leisure.}) 21... Qxe6 22. Rc7 Rd7 23. Qc2 Qe7 (23... Nd6 24. Ba3 $18) 24. Rxd7 Qxd7 (24... Nxd7 25. Qc8+ Nf8 26. Qxf5 $18) 25. f3 Nd6 26. Bd4 $6 {right idea to attack the loose Nb6, but wrong piece.} (26. Qc5 $1 {is much more dominating, pressuring b6 and d5 simultaneously.} Qc6 {and now exchanging is probably the easiest way toward victory.} (26... Ndc8 27. Ba3 Qd8 28. Bxf5 $18) 27. Qxc6 bxc6 28. Bxa6 $18) 26... Nbc8 $16 27. Qc5 {unlike in the previous variation, my pieces are not working together as well.} Ne7 28. Be5 (28. Bb2 $5 {with the idea of redeploying to a3.}) 28... Nf7 (28... Ne8 29. Bc3 $16) 29. Bb2 { now the move is forced.} Nd8 (29... Nc6 $5 $16) 30. Qd4 $18 {much better, now I find the correct arrangement of Q+B to increase the advantage.} Ne6 31. Qe5 g6 $2 {this should have lost. Opening up the king position is only to my advantage.} (31... Kf7 32. Bxf5 Nxf5 33. Qxf5+ Kg8 $18) 32. Qh8+ {while still good, this is rushed.} (32. Qf6 $5 {makes it even easier for White, comments Komodo.} d4 33. Bc4 Nd5 34. Qe5 Ndc7 35. Bxd4 $18) 32... Kf7 33. Qxh7+ { I thought from here that it would be a relatively easy win, being a pawn up and with my pieces dominating the board.} Ke8 34. Ba3 (34. Qh8+ {is superior, but I did not find the correct plan associated with it.} Kf7 35. h4 $18 { this is the point, as now Black's kingside pawns can be undermined and picked off.}) 34... Nf8 {here I was starting to get into time pressure and couldn't see a good way to break through, so just went for the piece exchanges.} 35. Qxe7+ (35. Qh8 $18 {would keep the dominant queen and allow White to undermine the kingside further.}) 35... Qxe7 $16 36. Bxe7 Kxe7 37. e4 $6 {I thought for a while here and decided to resolve the central situation. This again turns out to be a rushed approach to the position.} (37. Kf2 $5 $18 {this would keep the advantage in hand. Centralizing the king is a basic endgame principle and there was no need to rush the pawn advance.}) 37... dxe4 38. fxe4 fxe4 $2 { what I was hoping for originally.} (38... f4 $5 $16 {and Black is still in the game}) 39. Bxe4 $18 {this really should be enough to win now.} b5 40. b4 { fixing Black's queenside pawns on light squares, so they can be targets for the bishop.} Kd6 41. Bb7 Ne6 42. Bxa6 Kc6 43. Bc8 {unnecessary, as Black cannot corner the bishop.} (43. Kf2) 43... Nd4 44. Kf2 Nc2 {Black is making the most of her pieces.} 45. Be6 Kd6 46. Bf7 g5 47. Be8 Nxb4 48. Bxb5 $2 { throws away a nice position, comments Komodo. Yet another example of rushed play, but this time it costs me the win.} (48. a3 Nc2 49. Bxb5 Nxa3 {I didn't look past here in my calculation, unfortunately.} 50. Bd3 $1 $18 {and the knight on the rim is completely dominated by the bishop.}) 48... Nxa2 $16 49. Bc4 {now the situation is much more drawish, as all Black has to do is eliminate or blockade my pawns, sacrificing the knight if necessary.} Nb4 50. Kf3 {my king is a little late to the party.} Ke5 51. Kg4 Kf6 52. h4 {now the draw is assured, but I didn't see anything better.} (52. Bb5 $5 {would continue the dance of pieces.}) 52... gxh4 $11 53. Kxh4 {despite having a passed g-pawn, I won't be able to keep Black's king and knight away from its path. I was hoping for a blunder by my opponent and felt it worth pushing as far as I could.} Kg7 54. Kg5 Nc6 55. Kf5 Ne7+ 56. Kg5 Nc6 {Twofold repetition} 57. Bd5 Nb4 58. Be6 Nd3 59. Bf5 Nc5 60. g4 Nb7 61. Kf4 Nd6 62. Be6 Nb5 63. Ke5 Nc7 64. Bd7 Na6 65. Kf5 Nc5 66. Bc6 Nb3 67. Ke5 Kg6 68. Kf4 Kg7 69. Be4 Nc5 70. Bf5 Nb3 71. g5 Nc5 72. Ke5 Nb3 73. Bd7 Nd2 74. Kf4 Nb3 75. Be8 Nc5 76. Kf5 Nb3 77. g6 {at this point all Black has to do is move the knight around, since I can't do anything to the Kg7.} Nc5 {draw agreed} 1/2-1/2

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